Milwaukee, Wis., October 24, 2005 — When there is no longer reasonable hope for a cure, many patients, along with their physician and family, turn to hospice care. For 25 years, the staff of Columbia St. Mary’s Hospice has met this special need in the community, providing compassionate care for thousands of people in the final stage of life.
The hospice opened its doors on November 3, 1980 in the East Facility on Columbia St. Mary’s Milwaukee Campus on Lake Drive. Today, the 11-bed unit, located on the Columbia Campus, serves the entire Columbia St. Mary’s system. Its mission—to provide comforting care to enhance the quality of life for people with terminal illlness—has remained constant over the years.
“We have the longest sustained licensed inpatient hospice program in southeastern Wisconsin,” said Karen Wawrzonkowski, Director of Patient Services for the hospice. “Being licensed by the state of Wisconsin demonstrates that we adhere to high standards of care, including our interdisciplinary team approach and bereavement follow-up program. This tells patients and families what they can expect when they come here.”
Hospice caregivers are devoted to enhancing the quality of remaining life. Hospice is not a place where life ends, but where a lifetime is affirmed. Care focuses on each person’s physical, spiritual, emotional, and social needs—as well as the needs of family members.
The hospice team consists of the medical director, nurses, a social worker, a chaplain, dietitians, bereavement coordinator, a health unit coordinator, and a dedicated group of hospice volunteers. Each team member has received comprehensive training in hospice care. Family members also may participate in the care of their loved one in the unit.
“The 25th anniversary demonstrates that the hospice has benefited patients and the community, and is the proper care environment for some physicians to refer their patients,” said Dr. Charles Tiber, medical director. “Other hospice programs have come and gone in the area; this anniversary shows Columbia St. Mary’s strong support of this program.”
The hospice is supported by referrals from Horizon Home Care & Hospice and other agencies and from physicians, who may follow their patients’ care in the unit. If a return home is possible, home care is coordinated with a home hospice agency. “We work with homecare agencies for patients who want to go home and return to inpatient hospice care,” Dr. Tiber said.
The hospice’s respite program offers family caregivers a short-term break from the daily routine of caring for a loved one with a chronic illness or disability. Through the Bereavement Program and Grief Support Group, the hospice provides support to family members throughout the grieving process.
“In 2010, the hospice will welcome patients and families to its new location as part of the new Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital-Milwaukee on Lake Drive,” Dr. Tiber said.
About Columbia St. Mary’s
Columbia St. Mary's is comprised of four hospitals: Columbia St. Mary's Hospital Milwaukee, Columbia St. Mary's Columbia Campus, Columbia St. Mary's Hospital Ozaukee, and Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Institute, as well as 28 primary care clinics, the Columbia College of Nursing, a partnership with the Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin, the new River Woods Outpatient Center in Glendale, and new Urgent Care Center in downtown Milwaukee. The system serves individuals and families in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, and Washington counties, with more than 158 years of service. In 2006, Columbia St. Mary’s was named a Solucient Top 100 Hospital. Columbia St. Mary's and its sponsor organizations, Ascension Health and Columbia Health System, share a mission to make a positive difference in the health status and lives of individuals in the community with a special concern for those who are vulnerable.